President Obama creates the first marine monument in U.S. Atlantic waters

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John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Environment America

BOSTON, MA — President Obama created the first marine monument in U.S. Atlantic waters today, adding New England’s Coral Canyons and Seamounts to the long list of lands and seas he has protected during his administration.

Located Southeast of Cape Cod, where the continental shelf drops off into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, the area preserved today includes canyons as deep as the Grand Canyon and underwater mountains higher than any east of the Rockies. The waters above teem with ocean wildlife—including sea turtles, seabirds, and what scientists believe to be the highest diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the North Atlantic.

The monument’s creation was supported by more than 250 scientists and over 160,000 public comments – all submitted last fall during the administration’s public comment period.

“The canyons and seamounts area off New England’s coast is one of America’s most unique ocean places,” said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, who joined with a broad coalition of organizations and scientists to galvanize support for the new monument. “We’re delighted that this vast, wondrous ecosystem will now be permanently protected from drilling, overfishing, and other destructive activities — so that future generations can be just as awestruck by them as we are today.” 

With today’s announcement, the president has created 25 national monuments and protected more than 265 million acres of land and water, more than any other president — including Teddy Roosevelt, the chief architect of the law that allows the executive branch to safeguard treasured natural and historic areas against development and destruction.

Environment America and other organizations are pushing for more land-based national monuments before the president leaves office. High on their list is the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, which would protect 1.7 million acres of land surrounding one of the world’s most popular national parks from toxic uranium mining.

“We applaud the president for preserving these relatively unknown, underwater canyons off of New England’s coast,” said Alt. “Next, we hope he’ll protect the best-known canyon in America – the Grand Canyon – from the dangers of toxic mining.”

staff | TPIN

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